Editor’s note: This blog post was sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, but the sentiments are entirely my own.

Today’s digital enterprises require IT infrastructure that is agile and dynamic. Popular digital technologies like mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud applications can rapidly disrupt the status quo. The network must be responsive to change, with the ability to scale capacity, expand coverage, and implement new network technologies that support and enable the unique needs of disruptive digital services.

Unfortunately, most enterprises take a static approach to building and operating networks. Network hardware requires expensive capital outlays, and enterprises usually sweat network assets for as long as possible, sometimes beyond a typical depreciation cycle. They overbuild capacity and hope that the enterprise doesn’t outgrow before they can acquire the budget for a refresh or upgrade.  For this reason, network teams often struggle to respond to changing business requirements.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) recently introduced its Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) solution with Network-on-Demand (NoD) offerings, OmniVista® Cirrus, a cloud-based unified network management system and PALM (Proactive Lifecycle Management), a cloud-based system that provides monitors the status of installed ALE  switches, operating systems and contracts.

NoD, a key component of the ALE NaaS solution, changes how enterprises build and consume networks. It allows enterprises to acquire network hardware, management software, and services via an annual subscription, rather than a large up-front capital payment. It includes the full suite of ALE switches and Wi-Fi access points.

With NoD, an IT organization can subscribe to the network they need, rather than build out a static network that is supposed to support them over five or more years. When they’re network capacity requirements change, they can add, subtract, or upgrade hardware without incurring a penalty. For instance, network teams can upgrade the access layer of the wired network to 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps by swapping out hardware when they need to, not when the investment lifecycle dictates. Likewise, they can upgrade from 802.11n to 802.11ac Wi-Fi access points when they need more wireless bandwidth, not when the access points have reached the end of their depreciation cycle.

This is a new way of consuming network technology. In a way, it’s similar to the cloud. When an enterprise needs compute workloads in an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud, they spin up the workloads and pay the cloud provider a daily fee. When the workloads are no longer required, they shut them down and stop paying the provider. NoD is similar. There is no long-term commitment to expensive hardware. Instead, enterprises subscribe to the network, paying a monthly fee based on the capacity installed or the capacity consumed.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) recently published a white paper that take an in-depth look at ALE’s NaaS solution and explores how it addresses the specific requirements of today’s digital enterprises. EMA also recorded a webinar about NaaS with ALE. Both of these resources should help you understand whether NaaS is right for you.